What it means to be Presbyterian...
If you are visiting First Presbyterian Church, you may be curious, "What does it mean to be Presbyterian?" Presbyterians are a part of the Reformed Tradition, tracing our roots back to the work of Martin Luther and, especially, John Calvin in the 16th Century Reformation. There are a few essential tenets that describe what we believe:
We believe in Grace alone
We believe that salvation is given to humankind by the grace of God, and by the grace of God alone. This grace is given through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God's Son. Through faith in God's grace and love for us, we are able to experience the blessings and election of God that we may live in His will and purposes.
We believe in Christ alone
This means that we believe that Jesus Christ alone is the savior and redeemer of humankind and is the Head of the Church. We are here to glorify Jesus through our worship and our service, because he is Savior. Jesus is also Lord. We recognize that he lived in perfect conformity to the will of God, so we seek to emulate him as his disciples. Together, we have the awesome responsibility of "With Christ as our Savior as model and the Holy Spirit as guide, we gather to worship God, and go forth to serve, sharing our faith and God's love." We bring Christ to the world through acts of love and witness. We bring the world to Christ as we call people to accept Jesus as Savior, and welcome people into our family of faith.
We believe in Scripture alone
We believe the Bible is God's written word given to us and is the authoritative witness of God's will and grace in Jesus Christ. It is inspired by the Holy Spirit and authoritative in all matters of faith. It teaches us who God is, and who we are called to be and is a gift of God that we may see and understand that which is revealed to us by God. It is through the Scriptures that we are to see the creation as they show us God's faithfulness to humanity, and particularly to God's people. It confronts us with our sinfulness, and comforts us with God's grace. We learn from the scriptures that God is love. Worship is of upmost importance in our tradition. Central to worship is the proclamation of the word, and the sealing of the word through the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper.
Our denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA) comes out of the reformed tradition. We are particularly influenced by the teachings of the great theologian and pastor, John Calvin. Calvin developed a system of government that highly values the involvement of lay people as well as pastors. The name "Presbyterian" comes from the Greek word for "elder." Our congregation has the duty of prayerfully electing elders to serve on the session with the pastors. The session is called to discern God's will in making many important decisions on behalf of the congregation. The church also elects deacons. The primary responsibility of the deacons is to provide care for members of the congregation. Presbyterians believe in doing all things "decently and in order." (1 Cor. 14:40) When we are faithful in honoring Christ as Head of the Church, are led by the Holy Spirit, follow biblical teachings, and are well organized God does great things through us for his glory!